Vaccinate at-risk health and care workers in two weeks – union

Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent
·2-min read

Health and care workers should all be vaccinated by the end of January, a leading union has said.

The British Medical Association (BMA) added that those who are deemed to be “at risk” should all be vaccinated within two weeks.

Ensuring all staff are vaccinated by the end of the month will protect the NHS workforce and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed, the BMA said.

The Government has set an ambitious task of vaccinating the first four groups on the vaccine priority list by the middle of February – this includes health and social care workers and people over the age of 70.

The BMA chair of council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “There are almost 27,000 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals in England – an increase of more than 50% since Christmas Day.

“Hospitals are becoming like warzones, and healthcare workers are the exhausted foot soldiers on the front line.

“GPs are similarly pushed to the limit delivering an unprecedented mass vaccination programme in the community seven days a week.

“All of these workers are at constant risk of becoming infected, yet they are, beyond all doubt, the most important cog in the Covid-19 ‘care machine’.

“If they fall ill with the virus and cannot work, there will be reduced care, fewer vaccinations given, fewer medical procedures and less patients getting better and going home from hospital where they may then need GP care; they are also at huge risk and working often 18-hour days.

“The Prime Minister has promised that 13 million vaccinations will be given by the middle of February. This is a mammoth task and we need assurances from the Government that the supply of vaccines can match that target, that health and care staff are a priority, and that they can book an appointment to be vaccinated from next week.

“Vaccinating health and care workers won’t stop them being exhausted, and won’t stop them feeling the stress and anxiety of not having enough time, or beds, to give patients the care they need.

“But it will give them protection from this deadly virus and drive down on rates of sickness absence and necessary isolating, which are leaving services brutally exposed. Giving all healthcare workers a Covid-19 vaccination could save their lives so they can help save yours.”